Thursday, September 29, 2016


By José Alberto Hermosillo

A marvelous journey of courage and love that empowers “Little Women” to the great extent of “Brave” and “Frozen” all the way up to the North Pole.

“Long Way North”
 is a feast of colors of astonishing beauty in an elegant French animation.

Our story starts in Saint Petersburg, where Sasha, 
a 15-year-old Russian Aristocrat, is set to marry someone she doesn’t love.

At that time, women were not allowed to have an education in sciences and arts as they are now. 

Sasha’s personality was set for bigger goals. 

The little girl’s bravery will take her to places she always dreams of going with her grandfather.

The family’s library was a magnet attracting the curiosity of Sasha and her friend Olga. Their favorite subject was geography: maps and the diaries left by her visionary grandfather, Oloukine.

The family’s patriarch went on an expedition, “Long Way North,” on a Davia ship. 

The grandfather was supposed to make history and be the first man to set foot at the North Pole, but he has yet to return from that trip.
Back home, the Tsar’s nephew defamed the family’s honor by laughing about the old man’s unfinished business. 

Sasha was unhappy about that; she had a hint about where her grandfather got lost, and nobody else had looked before. No one listened to a young little woman.

She challenges herself, propels herself on a monumental quest to search for the truth, and vindicates her old man’s legacy and the family’s prestige.

Sasha’s endurance will help her to reach for the impossible.
Rémi Chayé directed this spectacular adventure in a traditional 2D animation, and it took the French-born artist ten years to make this beautiful film. The conception of this film is an act of love. 

This animated feature was selected as one of the COLCOA’s 15 Must-See French Films premiering in Los Angeles.

Rémi Chayé’s significant influences were visionaries writers Jack London and Julius Verne.

This audience award winner was dobbed in English, featuring the voices of Chloé Dunn, Vivienne Vermes, Peter Hudson, Antony Hickling, Tom Perkins, Geoffrey Greenhill, Claire Harrison-Bullett, and Bibi Jacob.

“Long Way North” cleverly mixes time-period history and fantasy. Its symbolism is reminiscent of the beautiful Oscar nominee Irish folktale “Song of the Sea.”

 “Long Way North” is a gratifying, engrossing, sophisticated, and beautiful to-watch French animation that empowers women worldwide. It is suitable for the entire family - enjoyable for children and appreciated by grownups.

Friday, September 23, 2016


By José Alberto Hermosillo

Surprisingly controversial, “Goat” is one of the most shocking films of the year!

“Goat” is a hazardous young-adult drama that unlocks the debate about the outrageous “Fraternity rituals” and bullying on campuses across America. 

The story focuses on two ambitious brothers with big dreams and high expectations, Brad Land (Ben Schnezert) and Brett Land (Nick Jonas). A Freshman and a Senior college student conflict on opposite sides of a Fraternity. 
The white youngsters party hardcore during a summer celebration with alcohol, drugs, and shameless sex.

Feeling left out, Brad, the introverted younger brother, leaves the party early. His insecurities play a significant role in his emotional decisions, as he couldn’t say “no” to a stranger who begged him for a ride. 

Down the road, the stranger and a friend beat the hell out of him. This traumatic assault puts Brad’s well-being at risk, making his transition to college even more painful. 

At the University, pledging to the sickening initiation rituals of the Fraternity becomes a living hell for all the newbies, including Brad.  

There is no place to run for those “poor, rich white kids.” 

Testosterone and adrenaline run high among the members of the Fraternity. The Seniors’ aggressive behavior is used to scare and abuse Freshmen and treat them like a “goat” ready for a sacrifice (metaphorically speaking).  
The epitome of humiliation comes when the “goats” become the guinea pigs, pet toys, and other animals. 

The physical and emotional assaults of the young students are pushed to the limits.

Feeling the pain, Brad, in desperation, eventually expresses, “I’m sick of getting scared all the time.”

At one point, Brett becomes aware of the damage he and his buddies are causing to the youngsters (including his little brother), who start doubting the 
Fraternity’s hierarchical rules. He develops an internal conflict with the dark side of brotherhood morals. 

The ex-member of the Jonas Brothers band turned into a pop star; Nick Jonas is terrific in his film debut. He plays the tough big brother with internal conflict and confidence.

On campuses across the country, nobody seems to break the vicious cycle of abuse as we learn that professors, counselors, principals, and the authorities in charge of the student’s well-being know about the bullying and do nothing to stop the excessive use of violence of the Fraternities, making this crime institutionalized.

Witnessing “Goat” could be essential for parents, teachers, and students to start discussions about bullying at colleges across America.

The problem of bullying on campuses is not exclusive to white male students. It happens to all ethnic groups and even the Sorority groups (for women); it happens to anyone, everywhere.

Other notable films about bullying in schools worth mentioning are the British production “The Riot Club,” “Dazed and Confused” by Richard Linklater, the Mexican Award winner “After Lucia,” the Gus Van Saint’s Palme d’Or winner “Elephant,” and “Klass” from Estonia.

The graphic violence in “Goat” is compelling and crosses the line several times. Still, the picture produced by James Franco and directed by Andrew Neel didn’t risk pushing the bar higher and making “Goat” more transcendental, consistent, and edgy.
Actors Ben Schnezert and Nick Jonas dug deep into their emotions to portray such a powerful and unforgettable character. However, the film needed fewer dialogues and explanations to continue the momentum gained initially. It needs more symbolism, punch lines, and confrontational situations to create a significant impact until the end, like “Amores Perros” and “Blue is the Warmest Color” did years ago.

After seeing “Goat,” I have to ask myself: If we continue this vicious cycle of bullying, abuse, and emotional damage, what kind of world are we building for the next generations? The period of violence must end.

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Festival in LA ©2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016


By José Alberto Hermosillo,  

“Kicks” is one of the best and freshest independent films of the year, yet ingenious and original.   

This new coming-of-age story builds tension in eighty minutes of wondering characters surviving in the slums of America.  
Courtesy of Focus Features

The first fifteen minutes of the film seem to be the most extended Nike Air Jordan’s commercial ever. This story is not about an ordinary tennis shoe, it is about "THE JORDANS." 

Once the main character starts looking for what is worth in life, is when the action takes off.
Courtesy of Focus Features

In the suburbs of Oakland, California, we meet Brandon (Jahking Guillory), an introvert teenager who likes to hang out with his older buddies, Rico (Christopher Meyer) and Albert (CJ Wallance). They love to smoke, drink and rap.

Brandon, after being beaten up in a very humiliating incident - he and his friends set off on a quest to recuperate his biggest treasure, his stolen tennis shoes.
A confrontation like that happens all the time anywhere, it is real - people can get killed over a backpack.

Courtesy of Focus Features

In “Kicks,” the city plays one of the main characters. 

The teen-drama moves from a small, impoverished ghetto to a more significant and more dangerous part of the town, where the big boys play with huge cars, easy girls, loaded guns and plenty of drugs. 
Courtesy of Focus Features

While the meanest guy in the “barrio,” Flaco (Kofi Siriboe), physically abuses Brandon (14), his five-year-old also is also getting abused.  


Flaco is played by Kofi Siriboe Courtesy of Focus Features
Flaco tries to teach a lesson to his son, but he has no moral authority over him - this is a fundamental element woven through the plots and subplots of the movie.
“Kicks” underlines a cycle of abuse. The irony comes when someone preaches respect, while he is no respecting those who are vulnerable. 
Courtesy of Focus Features

The young actors of "Kicks" are terrific. They had fun working with director Justin Tipping.

Justin said: “I was terrified the first day of shooting! It was like a weird experience and at the same time, it was incredible to work with all of those talented kids.”
Director, co-writer Justin Tipping, Photo by Jose A  Hermosillo, Copyright Festival in LA, 2016 


“Kicks” is a remarkable film debut for the director Justin Tipping.

The musical evolution of the film unfolds the drama.
The director, cleverly, incorporated hip-hop in the beginning to foreshadowing the rap that plays later, showing the transformation of a fragile teenager molding into a robust young adult.
Jahking Guillory as Brandon, Photo by Jose A Hermosillo Copyright Festival in LA 2016

In other parts of the world, some movies about troubled kids have been made in a similar tone. For example, the award winner Mexican production “Güeros,” last year’s independent sensation “Dope,” the Oscar winner “Tsotsi” from South Africa, "My Brother the Devil" from the U.K., and the iconic “Boys n the Hood” by John Singleton.

A ray of hope can be seen in the desolated universe of “Kicks” where friendship remains unbroken.

The film is slightly predictable but satisfies the audience who cheers for the main character, the vulnerable teen who wants to take justice into his own hands. If he succeeds or not, this is worth trying. 

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Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016